Monday, May 19, 2008

Blogging Break

I'll be on a blogging break until around mid-June. I won't be making any new posts nor will I be responding to any new comments or emails. Inshallah, I'll be back after that with some entertaining posts.

Stay Tuned....

Some titles planned for next month:

- Calling All White Boys to Islam...
- Trying to Pray With Kids
- A Driving Desire

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Dream I'm Searching for Jesus

About 11 years ago, I dreamt I was searching for Jesus. As a person who rarely remembers her dreams, even a few minutes after waking, the fact that every detail of this dream is seared into my memory even to this day is a testament to its impact. Muslims believe that on occasion, a person can experience a dream sent by God and surely, for me, this was one such dream.

My mission from the beginning of the dream was quite clear; I had to find Jesus. I was paired with another on my quest, a man I didn't know and have not met yet, to my knowledge.

The two of us began our quest in a very nice looking neighborhood with beautifully paved and clean, tree-lined streets during a sunny summer's day. We asked a few of the happy passers-by if they knew where Jesus could be found. Each smiling respondent enthusiastically pointed us in the direction of a large stadium in the distance.

Upon entering the packed stadium, the sound of hysterical laughter was deafening. Well-dressed men, women and children of various races filled every seat in the huge stadium and all were transfixed with laughter at the events taking place at the center of the stadium. There wasn't a person in the place whose face wasn't contorted with a jester-like quality and who were bent over in the throws of uncontrollable laughter. There was an unrealistic, almost forced quality to the laughter, as if it weren't genuinely produced from the soul. The absence of true joy was apparent in the eyes of the laughers as if their smiles had been unnaturally transposed over mourning faces.

My partner and I proceeded to try and ask several of the laughing people in the stadium if they knew where Jesus was, but it was so hard to distract them from their jocularity. In our confusion upon entering the stadium to this hilarious bedlam, we hadn't even glanced in the direction of the stage in the middle. When we looked...there was nothing there, just an empty stage with a spotlight shone upon it!

"What are you laughing at", I asked one of the people after shaking him out of his trance-like laughter long enough to look away from the empty stage and look at me. He was a middle-aged African-American man with glasses and looked to be an average middle-class family man.

He heavily lifted his arm and pointed his finger towards the empty stage while still contorted with laughter.

"But there's nothing there", I insisted while trying to keep him from slipping back into his laughing-trance.
"Don't you see it, it's right there, look", the man giggled and shifted his attention back to the stage.

"What, what's there, I don't see anything on stage...", but it was too late, he'd already been re-entranced by the empty stage.

Unable to snap any of the stadium-goers out of their insane laughter, we were forced to leave to continue our search despite having been instructed by various people outside the stadium that indeed, that's where Jesus is supposedly located. My partner and I decided to get into an awaiting taxi parked in front of the stadium and search in another neighborhood.

"Do you know where we might find Jesus", we enquired of the grungy cabbie upon getting into the older-model cab.

He nodded in the affirmative and proceeded to drive us a short distance to a dank, dirty, deserted part of town replete with tipped-over, rat-filled garbage cans and stagnant puddles of sewage overflow next to tall, dilapidated apartment buildings. The bright and cheerful sun which had shone in the nice neighborhood didn't appear through the smog and pollution casting tones of twilight across the dingy, urban scene like something out of an old gangster movie. The cabbie indicated to one of the condemned buildings, suggesting that would be where Jesus is located.

My partner and I entered the building and began knocking on apartment doors on every floor. Most were empty and the few people we did speak with, weren't helpful at anything but misdirection and contradiction until finally, there was only one apartment left unchecked. We opened the door to the sight of water filled up to just a few inches below the ceiling. There was an invisible barrier holding the water in the apartment and keeping it from flowing out of the open door. We could feel a type of pull, somehow we could sense that Jesus was in there and we had to enter through the door and into the water.

As we passed through the doorway, we were entirely immersed in water and were forced to float to the top. Our heads bumped against the ceiling next to the single light bulb which dimly illuminated the water below as we held our mouths above water and gasped for air. My partner and I took turns diving below the water and searching for Jesus in every cabinet and closet. We would rise to inform the other of where we'd already searched in the murky, greenish colored water and breathe while the other would dive below to continue our search, which now seemed more like a rescue mission. We treaded water for what seemed to be forever and we became exhausted.

Then finally after dozens of dives, we found him.

On my last dive into the kitchen, I'd found Jesus, weak and powerless to release himself, curled up in one of the lower cabinets in a fetal position. He wasn't dead, but practically unconscious. Upon opening the cabinet door and discovering him, the water gushed out of the apartment leaving us to carry a wet and tired Jesus out of the condemned building into the street. We rushed as fast as we could to try and find help for him and saw that the taxi which had brought us to this seedy neighborhood was still idling outside, ready to take us to the hospital. My partner and I held Jesus in the backseat of the taxi, trying to revive him. As he opened his eyes, he passed us a key that had been clenched in his hand all that time.

And I woke up.

The Meaning

There are people who are gifted with dream interpretation. A few years after having this dream, my husband contacted a sheikh who was renowned for accurately interpreting dreams. I already had an idea of what the dream meant but I wanted to have my ideas confirmed. I told him the details of my dream and he gave me the following keys:

Jesus= the true message of God. For Muslims, Jesus (PBUH) was an important Prophet and he carried with him the same message that all of God's prophets did, from Adam to Noah to Moses and beyond. Upon reading the Bible, I can spot where the original message was and where it had become changed and distorted from its original meaning. For me, Islam isn't a different religion from Christianity, hence the use of Jesus and not Mohammed (PBUH) as symbol for Islam in my dream; it's a continuation and a correction of what had come previous but had been manipulated by the hands of man.

The nice neighborhood at the beginning = the christian world

The laughing stadium goers = Christians who unbeknownst to themselves, were deluded into happiness by unsubstantial joys of this world. In error, everyone thought Jesus was there in the stadium with them but in fact, there was nothing. The forced quality of their laughter and the contradiction of their sad eyes to the apparent hilarity alluded to the fact that they suspected or knew the fallacy of the situation, but didn't want to admit it or question it.

My partner= we're not exactly sure who he is but the sheikh thought he is a person who was also going through a similar search for true Islam. I did not feel any romantic attachment to him nor do I recall any particular fondness for him... but I do know he is western-oriented like me although the details of his appearance have been obscured from my memory. All I felt is that we were linked in our search. One of my friends suggested he may be my then unborn son, who may join me on future religious projects, Allahu-aalam. A part of me feels he may be another Muslim who also had the same dream as I and may work with me in real life one day on an important Islamic project; this thought has compelled me to keep certain details of my dream out of this post in case I were to ever meet the brother, I could confirm his authenticity (far-fetched, I know).

The taxi = dawah, propagation of Islam. It's older state is a testament to outmoded methods used to promote the religion as well as its "foreignness". The grungy state of the driver, and the fact that many taxi drivers in metropolitan areas are of Muslim extraction may be of significance.

The bad neighborhood = the Muslim world today. The lack of light is how we lack enlightenment and are in a type of "dark ages". It also shows what a miserable state most Muslim countries are in.

The apartment dwellers- cultural Muslims, or Muslims-by-name-only who don't really practice the religion nor do they know much about it.

The water = fitna. This was one of the strongest symbols in my dream and the one I faced the most difficulty with. Diving down through all the fitna in the Muslim world in order to find the true message of Jesus (PBUH), which is the same as our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), proved to be an exhausting ordeal.

The key= perhaps to the gates of heaven for finding the true message of God through all of the fitna, after having left my nice neighborhood to search for it in the foreboding Muslim world.


Upon having this dream, two years or so after I really started practicing Islam and before my husband and I had left America for Saudia, I was instantly comforted that I was on the right path. I'd been given confirmation by God that my struggles were not in vain and that my destiny was to go to the Muslim world to dive and search through the fitna to find the true message of God. It also meant that there were others like me and I was never alone in my search and they would also help me bring the true religion of God out of the Muslim world where it had formerly been held, neglected and bogged down by fitna.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chinese Eyes

Random Filipina nurse: (to me) "Are you Chinese?"

Daisy: *?!?*

Random Filipina nurse: *earnestly awaiting answer*

Daisy: "Uh... no. But strangely enough, that's not the first time I've been asked that".

(people who know me...seriously, I've been asked this several times)

You never know when a recessive trait is going to strike. In my case, it's my "Chinese eyes".

Before we all had kids, there were only two people in my family with "Chinese eyes", me and my gorgeous Cousin Suzy. As a kid, I watched men fall all over themselves as my exotic looking cousin, then in her early 20's, passed by with her dark hair, classy style and her captivating eyes. I recall riding on rides for free when Suzy took me to the carnival. In a family whose looks exemplify "the girl next door", Suzy's features were unique.

"Are you sure you guys didn't have a Chinese milkman", DD jokes with me.

2 out of my 3 kids have inherited my "Chinese eyes", what had been a recessive trait. I hadn't thought much beyond my "Chinese eyes" when thinking of recessive traits. My DNA, when combined with DD's, is varied enough that I don't need to worry about passing things on like Sickle-Cell, cystic fibrosis or Huntington's onto my kids. Or so I thought...

"What the hell is going on, how the hell did we end up with two kids with epilepsy?"

After Buddy had his 3rd seizure in 4 days, I was asking a lot of questions. We weren't terribly surprised when EttaMae was struck with seizures last year; the poor kid really got a bad shuffle of the DNA deck. Not only did she get bad hair, bad teeth, bad eyesight amongst other things but, she'll catch every virus and bacteria in the general vicinity and is constantly sick. But now, Buddy too!

"Is there anyone else in your families that has convulsions", the neurologist asked DD and I while we were at the same hospital as that random Filipina nurse.

"No", DD answers quickly. Although the same thing can't be said with diabetes, sickle-cell and one in his family has epileptic seizures.

"I do have a cousin, a second cousin actually. She had a seizure once in her 20's but to my knowledge, she never had one again. And she was told it was probably from an old head injury, something about an old bruise on her brain, maybe from a childhood fall."

I recalled the details of Suzy's seizure to doctor as best as I could remember of the second-hand story.

"Maybe this is evidence of a recessive trait in your family" the neurologist said.

Although I'd like to deny any culpability, perhaps I've passed on more than just my Chinese eyes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tussle My Hair

Silky-soft brown swirls and whirls,
flippy-floppy cowlicks and gentle waves,
there's something about Buddy's hair that says, "Please, tussle me".

There hasn't been an outing amongst people yet in which at least one person, a complete stranger, does not pass by smiling and give his hair a little tussle. On many shopping trips, up to four people of all different walks of life, have felt compelled to playfully rifle their fingers through his hair; little girls, Asian laborers, old ladies and cashiers all are drawn to my boy's head. Sometimes, the hair-tussle is accompanied by a piece of candy or a bag of chips, to Buddy's delight.

I understand the magnetic pull of Buddy's hair, I must tussle his hair several times a day myself.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Lazarus Roach

As I entered the bathroom to give Buddy a bath yesterday, I was greeted by the site of this, icky bug, triumphantly crawling out of the bathtub's drain.

So far, I've been blessed in this house when it comes to roaches or rather, the lack thereof. In the two and a half years that we've lived here, I've only come across less than a dozen in total. Most of the time, they waltz in through one of the downstairs bathrooms and don't make it into the house much further than that before they're....eliminated.

This is a far cry from the "old neighborhood" where roaches were walking in under the door from outside with impunity, as if they'd been invited for tea. Thank God my cats were roach detectors back in those days. They're worthless when it came to killing them, they're too well fed for that messy business, but at least they stared unflinchingly for several minutes at a time which told me, there's a creepy crawly in the house. Just to make sure you understand the scale of these bugs, this one was at least as long as my pinkie finger.

So there I am, a naked Buddy in one hand and the spray hose in the other. I set Buddy down to pick up the toilet brush, the only thing I'm not worried about messing up with roach guts, and start bashing the roach back down the drain as it's trying to emerge. I combined beating it with spraying it until it gave up clinging to the sides of the drain and washed down the two floors to the sewer pipes below. Just to make sure it wasn't clinging, I made sure to flush down plenty of water during Buddy's bath then later when I took a shower.

Bath-time comes again in our home, always around Isha prayer when I'm getting the kids ready for bed. Again, I enter the bathroom and turn on the light and there, in a triumphantly brazen pose, is that damned roach. There's no way it could be a different one considering this is the first roach in all these years to express an obsession with my second floor bedroom's bathtub. My bathtub is this roach's Mt. Everest. It had to climb up two floors of pipes to make it all the way up to my room, no wonder it wasn't worried about scattering after I'd turned on the light, it had lived a full made it to the bathtub.

Armed with a camera and a shoe, I made sure to capture this roach's accomplishment for posterity before bashing it repeatedly to death. Since these roach's are so big, just one smack, or even two, can't do the job.

Crrrrunch.....Fluuuuuush......try coming back after that beeeeyach!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Buying Makeup

Cousin1: (in the midst of bickering with her uncle's wife) Daisy, is MAC the same as Makeup4Ever?

Daisy: No, there two different companies. MAC is only 3 letter's, M-A-C..nothing else, that's how you can remember the difference.

Uncle's wife: nuh uh, when I went shopping the last time, the guy called it "mac for ever".

Daisy: then then the guy's just dumb...they are two, completely separate companies and their make-up's totally different too. MAC's made in Canada, I used to love their makeup.

Cousin1: I went to that MAC store at Dhahran Mall, they didn't have any Makeup for Ever there, Daisy's right. MAC makeup is fantastic isn't it.

Daisy: I drove 3 hours all the way to Toronto once just to buy MAC lipsticks (as well as to change scenery a bit). They didn't have MAC in the States yet at that time. That's where I got my nose pierced on my 20th birthday (affirmation of my one-time coolness and freedom to up and go to Toronto on a whim, unlike these days when I have to beg and plead just to get to the grocery store). Ah, those were the days, before marriage + kids.

Uncle's wife: I don't like their foundation though. In fact, I don't like most American foundation.
Daisy: Don't buy American/western foundation, remember, Americans like the "tanned" look so even the lightest shades won't get you the smooth porcelain look your going for.

Cousin1: Amani just bought 500 riyals of MAC make-up then ended up having to toss it all out. After she got home and put it on, it looked like baby crap had been smeared all over her face and since it had been opened, she couldn't return it. She could only test it on her hand at the store and that's not the same as on her face. Do you remember how a long time ago, the MAC store in Rashid mall used to be closed off and have women employees.

Daisy: Yeah, I remember that. That was ages ago though, 8+years maybe. I was so mad when I went there after they did away with the female employees and there was all men there. The first time I went I took off my veil and tried all the make-up on before I bought it. I mean, look (I held my hand up to my jawline) my hand's a completely different shade from my face. Especially these days since all winter I've been taking Buddy outside to the roof everyday so he doesn't get rickets and now I've gotten a tan mainly on my arms since my face moisturizer has sunscreen in it.

Cousin2: you look good darker.

Daisy: Seriously? (really confused...did I just here that come out of a Saudi woman's mouth?!? darker=prettier?!?)

Daisy cont'd: besides, if you want that smooth, white look you should go for that Japanese company Shiseido. Japanese like white complexions where Americans think you look sickly when your too white. (I know, I'm an enabler)

Uncle's wife: Yeah, geisha's.

(everyone's eyes twinkle a bit as they think of themselves donning the "geisha look" for an upcoming wedding in the family...some have come really close with the amount of powder/light make-up they use!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Technicolor Streak

My MIL finished her mourning period of four months and ten days, as is the Sunnah. During these months she only wore plain, undecorated clothes, didn't apply perfume or make-up, and didn't leave the house. On the evening her mourning period was finished, she donned a garb which clearly stated exactly how finished she was.

Now, if only one out of her 5 adult sons that she was "blessed" with, mashallah, would get off of their ungrateful butt and take the woman somewhere. All of the meals that were cooked in a blazing hot kitchen, all of the clothes that were laundered for them, all of the love and attention that was paid to them over the years went seemingly unremembered after her mourning period was done.

While all of her old-lady friends have been taken to Dubai, Syria, Egypt as well as other exciting places, the only place this poor unappreciated woman has been taken in her life is to Mecca and once to Bahrain.

Words cannot express my disappointment in all of her "loving" sons, who are now her legal guardians since her widowhood. The woman's been widowed for God's sake and had to stay in the house for 4 straight months. She deserves a well-earned trip replete with pampering, just for her.

The Source of Sleeplessness

How I've struggled these last few months to get some sleep. I find myself unable to turn "off" at 11pm, 1am, 3am...then hell, I might as well keep myself awake because there's fajr prayer and the kids get up by 6 am. I've been managing to get a "nap" in around 9-10am when Buddy takes his nap until the girls get home from school after 12:30 pm. I'm exhausted!!! Human beings can't go on like this for very long.

Last week during a school break, we had a family get together which kept us up till dawn. As a result, my kids slept until 2:30 pm and....SO DID I!!! And then it hit me, I can sleep! The problem has been all along WHEN I'm sleeping. My circadian rhythms are all off causing me to feel sleepy between 8am-5 pm, times when I have to force myself to be awake and take care of my kids and home. I'm not exactly sure how they got that way considering I never slept at those times to establish a weirdo pattern like that. That's more typical of....

hold the phone- those are Saudi summer/Ramadan sleeping hours!

Yes siree Bob! This country has once again managed to screw up my sleep! Even though my kids are sleeping at night, just BEING in this country apparently is enough to mess up my sleep. So having discovered the source of my misery I'm left with a choice:

Do I-

A) go ahead and give in to my screwy sleep patterns, turning myself and kids into nocturnal creatures, completely worthless/unconscious during daylight hours? I'd finally fit in with my in-laws schedule but this type of schedule has many drawbacks in my past experience.
  1. I end up being late/missing several prayers such as Thuhr and 'Asr in order to get enough hours of uninterrupted sleep.

  2. Sleeping during the day has never been refreshing and I wake up feeling zonked and unmotivated despite filling my necessary sleeping quota.

  3. If I sleep during the day, my kids have to come along for the ride because they're still young and I must be awake when they are. My kids behaviour becomes ridiculously bad when turned around (remember, I've followed this type of schedule off and on for several years because of living in my in-laws house).

B) wait until school lets out at the end of May when I no longer have to worry about school hours and try to adjust my sleeping schedule a little every day/week until it corresponds with normal human hours, not Saudi hours. I wouldn't be able to do it before then because I'd always have to worry about waking up to get my kids ready for school and to open the door for them and take care of them once they get home. Although this sounds logical, this also has its drawbacks.
  1. MAY!!! I'm tired and want sleep NOW!

  2. I'll be managing to fix my sleep the exact time that the rest of the country will be switching to night mode and I'll once again be out of sync with everyone and everything else here.

I'll be honest, I'm leaning towards option B and I'll just try to fit in as many "naps" as I can till then. The times that I've had to sleep "Saudi" hours during the daytime have been some of the worst in my life. I've never felt so lethargic, depressed, and out of tune as those seemingly endless summers at my in-laws house when I prayed for school to start again just to be able to resume a normal schedule of night sleeping. Even if I slept for 12 hours, I never felt refreshed.

After trying EVERY herbal/natural remedy known, trying proven behavioral modifications and even calling Peaceful Muslimah in Qatar and Nzingha who goes to Bahrain to see what sleep medicines are available there, I'd be ready to pay someone to hit me over the head with a sledge-hammer if it were guaranteed I'd have a good nights sleep. There are no sleeping pills available here in the country so these are my only options.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Since I can't write these days...

Although I don't always agree with what she says or how she does it, I have to admire the guts Saudi women's rights activist, Wajeha Al-Huwaider, has to be able to make this video protest for International Women's day showing her driving on the streets of Saudia. Now mind you, if it's technically not illegal for women to drive here, and she does have a driver’s licence, then why should she get in trouble for making this video which shows her driving? Unfortunately we all know it doesn't quite work that way here:

I also came across a video featuring the always eloquent Suzan Zawawi from the Saudi Gazette. The first and second videos tell non-Saudis more about the lives of Saudi women in a few minutes that what I could write in a few years. We miss you Suzy, your mom and your sisters here in Al-Hassa:-)


I had a real problem pressing the mute button on this video, I soooo luv this song (AAYB DAISY!). It's an homage to the niqabis...I plan on being that sister at the end of the video on the motorcycle.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Was Playing in the Street When...

This is the phrase I've heard several old women using when emphasizing how old they were when they were married off:

"I was playing out in the street when they came and brought me to see this strange man and..."

My MIL estimates that she was probably around 11 years old when she was married off to her husband, a man 20 some years her senior (we never did know exactly how old my FIL was, God rest his soul). She claims that she hadn't even started menstruating yet, as once a girl hits puberty she can no longer play "out" in the street. The woman he'd been married to passed away suddenly and at the wake, his uncle came to comfort his grieving nephew.

"Why don't you marry my daughter", he offered to him. The man felt in his heart of hearts that having a new wife would ease his nephew's suffering as well as provide his daughter with a husband he knew and trusted. And so, my MIL was married off to my FIL.

As was common in those days, a new bride did not become the managing force in her household but rather, she became a part of her new husband's family's home. His mother was the matron and called all the shots. She was expected to be an apprentice to her husband's mother, bear the children and eventually, after her MIL became old and infirm, she would take over the managing the household.

More than likely due to the strain on my MIL's yet undeveloped body, her first 3 children died immediately, within a day or so, after birth. Although in the days "before oil" the infant mortality rate was astounding, 3 in a row would be tough! She was probably not even in her mid-teens before her first living child was born, at home, as were all the children at that time. After having lost 3 children in a row, they didn't take ANY chances with this one. Believing that someone had given them an "eye" resulting in their babies deaths, they hid the newest baby for over a year and didn't announce the delivery to anyone outside of the family. As a result, my husband's oldest brother didn't get circumcised until he was around 8 or 9 years old as well as never discovering exactly what his age is.

Such was life, back in those days. Both my MIL and FIL were illiterate and had to work hard for everything they had. My FIL was a manual laborer and worked various unskilled jobs throughout his life, jobs that S.E. Asian workers now do for less pay. There were no other options for girls back then; they were destined to become wives and mothers. Education for men was only available to the elite and the clergy in the past and upon attaining puberty, a girl was ready for the next stage in her life: marriage. There wasn't any thing else.

These days it's unheard of for a man to marry an 11 year-old girl in Saudia and attitudes have changed towards young marriage. Although you will hear of the occasional 14 year-old getting married, it's a rarity and teenage pregnancy rates in the west are probably higher than the rate of Saudi girls the same age marrying. Even marrying in high school is becoming more infrequent with every successive year. Some become engaged in the last year or so of high school or immediately after graduation. Many young women now are trying to finish university and get a year or two in working before marrying.

Occasionally, especially during exam times, I hear comments from some of the older women. "I don't see why they're killing themselves with all this studying for university when they're just going to get married and stay at home with the kids."

Locusts and Al-Hassa

My father-in-law used to tell us about how difficult life used to be before oil. Al-Hassa, being an agricultural city, could be dessimated by a locust invasion before modern and efficient trade with areas outside the city were established. When asked how they coped once all their crops and food were consumed by the locusts he said, "we'd eat the locusts".


First Wife Bribed for Understanding

Sidelights: First Wife Bribed for UnderstandingArab News

YANBU, 26 February 2008 — Ah, the complexities of having multiple wives. Some may think this makes life easier, considering that multiple wives means multiple housecleaners and multiple food-preparers and if one gets on your nerves you can go hang out with the other one until the first one behaves properly. But in fact it’s not as easy as it sounds to have a number of women in your life: life ain’t easy for a player, as some might say. So it may come to no surprise that — according to the daily Al-Madinah yesterday — a man lavished his first wife with a grand fête filled with expensive gifts and jewelry when she did not dispute his desire to marry a second woman. Perhaps there is no better way to reward a woman for allowing you to marry another woman than to give her lots of shiny things.

If it works for her, who are we to say anything?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Name and Shame

I propose a website, called "Aayb Alayk" (Shame on You), which would name and shame the Kingdom's bad boys.

Ladies, next time you’re receiving unwanted attention, whip out those mobiles and start filming them in action. Extra points will be given if license plates are clearly displayed in the film or if the culprits give their names. We can then upload these incriminating videos to the Aayb Alayk page.Any type of bad behavior can be filmed as long as its done in the public sphere; stunt driving in traffic as well as flirting are just a few of the possibilities.

Why should we let them get away with chasing us at high speeds in their shiny sports cars, endangering our lives while trying to shout their numbers at us, even when we are accompanied by our men in some instances? Why must we feel compelled to avoid certain shopping centers and malls because it’s a well known flirting gallery?

In what must have been a busy day for the MIB-Men In Beards (aka Muttawwa), 57 men were nabbed in Meccan shopping malls for trying to harass and/or flirt with women.

And girls, I know not all of you are innocent victims of male aggression. You know who you are, Miss Pops-Open-To-See-My-Miniskirt-Skinny-Abaya with your toxic applications of perfume, come-hither eye-makeup and your crippling stilettos. And we know you don't have your period even though you spent Maghrib prayer while the shops were closed primping in the Mall's bathrooms instead of praying. I'm not addressing you, you irreligious hussy. I'm speaking to women who aren't soliciting this type of attention from men.

Arm yourselves sisters, with your cameras.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Grass is Always…Fatter

The house was bursting at the seams with women who'd come to pay their respects in the days after my father-in-law passed away. Some stayed for only a matter of minutes, enough time to greet the other women present and drink a cup of coffee while expressing their condolences to the family, as is in good taste and is the Sunnah. Others, some close friends of the family but mostly unwanted lingerers, sat and chatted about all manners of goings-on as my grieving sister-in-laws turned into waitresses by refreshing bottomless cups of coffee and tea. The men had rented a farm to accommodate the onslaught of mourners but the womenfolk came to the small, old-style house since my mother-in-law is not able to exit her home during the mourning period for widows of four months and 10 days.

Since I actively avoid weddings, I don't often encounter large groups of women like what was present during the 3 days following my father-in-laws death. As women filed in and out of the house, all types of discussion were taking place; gossip, recent events, more gossip. Feeling a bit like Typhoid Daisy, I stood and greeted every woman that entered with the mandatory handshake and kisses on the cheek despite my 1o2°F fever then returned to shivering quietly, curled up under my abaya and layers of clothing while seated on a sofa in the corner of the room. Not up to participating in the topic-du-jour, I listened-in as the chatty women resumed whatever issue was being hashed out before disruption of greeting the latest batch of mourners.

"Are you still looking for a house?", one of the older women enquired of a younger woman who'd come with her mother, whose tight off-the-shoulder "bad-girl" abaya barely contained her girth and made her the topic of discussion after her departure.

"I found one next to so-and-so's house in such-and-such neighborhood", she responded as a group of old, toothless women across the room began paying attention to the information she was giving.

"For rent?", the older woman continued her inquiry. "Who owns it?"

"I can't remember the exact family name, my husband knows it, but he's got two wives and…", Miss Tight Abaya was cut-off before she could finish by one of the old toothless women.

"That's my son's house", she exclaimed, taking a proactive approach to the conversation before the women went too far into the "two wives" issue.

"When did he marry again?" another older woman asked with a surprised expression, obviously an old friend who'd lost touch with the polygamist's toothless mother.

"Last year" she answered her friend as more and more of the two dozen women in the room dropped whatever lines of meaningless discourse were taking place to substitute it with eavesdropping on this meatier topic , "I don't know why though, his wife is a good wife" the toothless mom added.

"So why'd he get married again?" a previously uninterested middle-aged woman interjected as the room began to go silent to listen in to the reason.

There are a number of supposed certains in a woman's life here regarding marriage. Some of which are as follows; if you do x,y,z for your husband, he won't get married again. If you are a good wife, you're husband won't have a reason to get married again on you. Being a "good wife" is of course a very subjective matter but some of the general qualities of a good wife are: your house is clean, you make plenty of babies, you cook well, you don't get fat, you don't look old, you take care of your appearance, you are not demanding, etc. If a man marries again, it is assumed for certain it's because his first wife was lacking in some way which forced him to go forth and seek greener pastures. When people hear a man has married a second wife, the question which immediately follows is: "why?" Everyone wants to know what was wrong with the first wife.

The entire room of mainly middle-aged women eagerly awaited the toothless mom's answer. Every woman wants to avoid the pitfalls of other women who've inadvertently forced their men into the arms of a second wife and even if this isn't their main motivation for paying attention, having dirt on the first wife is reason enough to listen intently.

"She's a good wife", the toothless polygamist's mom said again. "She's a good cook, her house is clean, she has three kids, she's not ugly…", she went on extolling the virtues of her seemingly infallible daughter-in-law.

"So what's his problem with her then", another woman impatiently enquired of the toothless mom?

"He says she's too skinny and he wants to be married to a fat woman", the old woman announced to a silent room which was instantly transformed into a sea of confused faces. For a few moments, the women in the room pondered the grammar and word order of the sentence with which the evidently confused old woman perplexed them.

"You mean she's too fat and he wants to be married to a skinny one", one of the eavesdroppers corrected her after concluding that the senile woman had inadvertently switched adjectives. After all, this order makes sense to everyone as they nodded their heads in agreement with the semantic correction.

"No", the toothless mom asserted, "his wife is thin and he wants a fat wife!"

The initial confused silence continued for a few more moments, left over from the toothless mom's first statement and compounded by her second. Logic and reason were turned on their heads, the sun began to rise from the west as the earth reversed rotation on its axis for these women. All of the sudden, in a simultaneous explosion, every last woman in the room burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

Women doubled-over with convulsive laughter while clutching their jiggling belly rolls and crossing their thick thighs as they wiped away tears from their plump cheeks with their sausage-like fingers. Miss Skinny Abaya popped a button in all the commotion. My MIL covered her face with her abaya trying to mask the hilarity, which was completely unbecoming of a grieving widow at the wake. Not one of the women in there was less than 15 kilos overweight and no doubt, the majority had tried many dieting methods and failed. Earlier that same day, DD's female cousin passed out and was having bad stomach pain from taking diet pills on an empty stomach. This laughter continued unabated for several minutes until, after catching their breath, some of the women wanted to clarify the facts of this distinctive second marriage.

"So was the first wife like, chemotherapy skinny?"

The polygamist's toothless mom answered, "No, she has a nice figure, not scrawny or anything. Just thin."

"They're never happy are they", I added my 2 cents to the conversation. "If they have a tall wife they want a short one, if they have a fat wife they want a skinny one, etc."

The old women all nodded their heads in agreement. The grass is always greener on the other side, or is it fatter?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Canadian F-Word Blog Awards

I was honored to be nominated in the Best International Feminist Blog category. Due to my absence, I didn't post about this soon enough and didn't make it to the final round however, there are many fantastic blogs to check out and its worth taking a look and perhaps, casting your vote for a more reliable blogger than myself. Thanks for the nomination

A Dust Documentery

written on the steps to my house in dust: "I would rather shovel snow"


I spent a fair amount of time in my youth raking leaves, mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow. Living in the Great Lakes region meant I was familiar with the term "Lake-Effect Snow" which basically means that you can be sitting in 60F sunny weather at noon, only to have a foot of snow dumped on your head that night. As backbreaking as shoveling wet snow can be, at least it doesn't infiltrate every nook and cranny INSIDE your home.

The dust in the above picture didn't stop at my doorway...nor is it stopped by cabinet doors and closed windows. When a dust storm hits, every surface of EVERYTHING in a house must undergo dust removal. Every shelf, every piece of furniture, every dish in your cupboard, and your kids stuffed animals all have a fine layer of reddish dust on them. Normal dusting in this country is a b***h even without the dust storms and daily dust removal is a must during the winter when it’s windy.

The worst experience with the dust in this country came when I was pregnant with EttaMae and went into labor. When I was certain I would be giving birth that day, I decided to clean up my home to keep my mind off of the pain and to make sure that my house was clean to return to after coming home from the hospital. I started cleaning at 9am and didn't stop until after 3pm when I finally had to go to the hospital. I cleaned every bathroom, every floor, every dish, and every bit of laundry. I only stayed in the hospital less than 24 hours and returned home the next day after noon. During the night, a dust storm had hit and coated everything in my apartment with a layer of dust. I returned, physically exhausted from the birthing process to this: all my clean dishes had to be rewashed, the clean clothes on the line were coated with dust as well as the clothes in my cabinet, my sparkling bathrooms turned into muddy messes, and the floors all had footprints through the dust...

...I cried

Wearing either black or white is also a pain when one leaves the house. Anyone who lives in an area where road-salt is used can sympathize with the smudges on your arm or butt as you ever-so-slightly brushed across the side of your car which unbeknownst to you, left your clothes branded for the rest of the day. I've been washing my abaya after each trip out, no matter how brief the excursion. The dust is dangerous for drivers too, as Emiratis are being warned.

Our heads ache, our chests burn, and our eyes are crusty from the dust. But at least it’s not hot yet, right? We should count our blessings, no matter how dusty they are.

And later that day

I went to give EttaMae her bath at night and found this mess...
I wrote "The Bathroom" in the dust.

Keep in mind that this is after only one day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bless my well-wishers

A sincere and profound thank you to everyone who made dua'a and sent their condolences after the death of my dear father-in-law. It really warmed our hearts to read your messages.

Even more thanks for the emails and enquiries as to my state during my latest blogging absence. I wish I could say that all is well but unfortunately I've been chewed-on, swallowed and partially digested by the dark forces that be here in Stepford, Saudi Arabia.

My housekeeper, who'd been at my in-laws since my father-in-laws illness, never returned to my home but rather, had to travel back to Indonesia to tend to her own mother who'd fallen ill. The lack of any adult help in the house (DD doesn't count) coupled with Eid vacation from school immediately followed a few weeks later by the end of term vacation means its been endless child-rearing, cleaning, cooking, washing and dusting.

It's been months since I've visited a friend or one visited me. It's been months since I've gone out of my house more than twice in a week, once for groceries and once to see my MIL on Fridays. I haven't seen the inside of a salon in....can't remember. I have 3 outfits suitable for the cold weather but haven't managed to shop for more. I can't touch my dissertation.

This Daisy's withered on her stem and is barely recognizable as the glorious bloom she once was.

So, it's time to water this Daisy with flowing, intelligent dialogue and supplement her intellect with rich topics of interest. I've never been able to shake my blogging mindset since I started, even during my extended internet absences, and I find myself struck by possible topics almost daily. It's become a compulsion in me which deserves to be indulged.

Now, time to reacquaint myself with written English as I found myself struggling for over an hour to write this little post despite English being my mother tongue...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Bell Tolls for the Alarm-Clock King.

"Athaan?", my nearly-deaf and almost blind father-in-law asks as he pops his head out of his bedroom at 1am to see if the call to the pre-dawn prayer has passed.

"Not yet Dad, it's still early", I'd assure him at the top of my lungs.

He brought me his alarm clock almost every night before going to bed to make sure the time was accurate and the alarm was set to go off about a half-hour before the athaan was called so he'd make sure to be up, washed, dressed and sitting in the first row by the time they got around to calling for prayer.

"Set it to a quarter-to-4" he'd instruct me then hold the clock at the end of his nose, straining to confirm my settings after handing it back to him.

Despite my assuring him of it's accuracy, he'd proceed to fiddle with it after returning to his bedroom, usually to set it a bit earlier just in case so he'd be sure not to miss prayer. This meant that his alarm was going off at all times during the night. Sometimes he'd pop out 3 times a night to ask if it was time to pray yet or not because he couldn't hear it himself nor see a clock well enough to check the time. Each time we send him back to his bed to await pleasing his Lord a few hours longer.

My father-in-law spent his last few weeks in this life asking every few minutes if it was time to pray. Much of the speech he was capable of in the days after his stroke in September was used to invoke the name of God and thank him for everything in his life that he could remember through his delirium. May Allah have mercy on him, forgive him of his sins and accept him into the highest levels of heaven. He passed away last night, Allah yarhamma.

His alarm went off at 3:30 this morning.

Friday, November 23, 2007

TP Or No TP- That Is The Question

TP or no TP- that is the question;

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
By braving soggy undies, by far it is tougher.
But that dread of something with which I take issue
The undiscover’d truth- thou art without tissue

Islam requires the washing of your bottom
But alas, no tissues! If I’d only brought’em!
To grunt and sweat under forceful nature’s effluence
Then wash with one’s hand is Saudis toileting preference

I am sicklied o’er the thought of just using
My lovely left hand, it na’er requires musing
This despis’d custom turns my expression awry.
If only TP to wipe, perchance to dry.

To refuse using tissue, methinks you’re not pious
The reality is, you’ve revealed your true bias.
Your claim that its use imitates the kuffar
Is completely unlike driving your western-made car.

Or your wife, beautied with a plast’ring art
Her and her Sephora must be pried apart?
And your children’s addiction to video-gaming
Is not due to the toilet paper you’re blaming.

Muslims can wipe, wash, and then dry their toosh
And it helps to prevent the dred’d yeasty bush
So if only to avoid your guests throwing a fit
Go buy some TP so our hands don’t touch s**t.